Work Night Shifts? How to Reset Your Circadian Rhythm

22/10/2015

Our bodies are biologically programmed to work on a 24-hour clock which is affected by external factors, like light and darkness. This means we are ideally suited to be active during the day and sleep at night. If you are working the night shift, it can be quite arduous to reset your circadian rhythm, so that you can sleep restfully during the day. However, there are certain techniques you can implement to reset your internal clock:

Family Cooperation
It becomes crucial for your family and friends to cooperate in modifying your lifestyle to help reset your circadian rhythm when you are working the night shift. Your family has to understand the value of getting undisturbed sleep during the day. They need to be informed of your unusual sleeping schedule and should avoid interrupting you during this time period. Also, family activities have to be scheduled during common wakefulness times, otherwise you may be irritable during the time you have to bond with your family which may lead to more frustration. Stress from this situation may further hurt your sleeping habits.

Physical Environment
It is difficult to sleep well during daylight because your circadian rhythm is linked to light. Therefore, to help you sleep during the day, you need the right setup. Ensure your phone is tucked away and on mute because you don’t want to be constantly interrupted by people who have no clue you are sleeping. Keep the doors closed and ask family members not to continuously enter your sleeping area to minimize sound disturbances. Most importantly, install blackout curtains that cover your windows well to prevent any light from filtering into the room.

No Napping
Taking unscheduled naps can hinder your efforts to reset your circadian rhythm. Naps can throw off your sleep pattern, especially if they are taken a few hours before your planned sleep time. Try to avoid long naps that allow you to catch up on some sleep, but make it more difficult to follow your night shift work schedule. Short naps (less than 15 minutes) can, however, help you refresh a little without compromising your overall sleep pattern.

Give Up Caffeine
It is a good idea to resist caffeine urges while you are trying to shift your sleeping habits. Your body will typically demand coffee based on your previous work-sleep schedule and ingesting caffeine at the wrong time might make it harder to sleep after your night shift.

These tips will help you reset your circadian rhythm by increasing your total sleep time during the day as well as improving sleep quality, allowing you to feel well rested.

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